Daily Fantasy Football is the ultimate week-to-week test of acumen. There is worry about bye weeks or injured players like in season-long formats. FanDuel offers a variety of cash and tournament contests consisting of a single week of matchups. Projecting player ownership to build lineups is an integral strategy to long-term success. Here are the key players for Week 17 of the 2016 season:
*Overall defensive ranks represented by FootballOutsiders.com DVOA*
THE CHALK PLAYS
Aaron Rodgers (DET), $8,800: The Packers are playing for a divisional title this week against Detroit. Motivation is high in a week where playing time can be tough to predict for many teams around the NFL. The Lions pass defense matchup is optimal as Detroit took over the No.32 - dead last - spot in FootballOutsiders DVOA allowed. They are bottom-half against every pass-catching position for opposing offenses. Expect 15-25% ownership for Rodgers.
David Johnson (LA), $9,300: The Rams are stingy against the run (and running backs in general), but Arizona's offense has little going on outside of Johnson. Despite his high salary all season, Johnson has hit 2x value in all but four games and his low-water mark of 1.4x is still a sturdy floor for his salary. Johnson may hit 40% ownership to close the season.
Jacquizz Rodgers (CAR), $5,200: Doug Martin is out this week and was already a non-factor to Rodgers' workload. Carolina is a neutral matchup for running backs but Rodgers' workload has a high floor and ceiling. The diminutive back had 17 touches last week and a run of three straight games of 20, 27, and 35 touches with the lead role in the middle of the season. At a bare bones salary, Rodgers fits the RB2 spot with high-priced recommendations at other positions this week. Expect Rodgers to have top-5 ownership at running back, upward of 10%.
Jordy Nelson (DET), $8,200: With Rodgers a chalk play, Nelson makes for an ideal stack in one of the few meaningful games in Week 17. The Lions are the worst pass defense in the league by FootballOutsiders and No.25 against No.1 receivers. Randall Cobb will be a game-time decision with a balky ankle and even if he goes, Nelson is a prime candidate to continue his streak of four straight games supplying 2x value or better. Expect at least 25% ownership for Nelson.
Michael Thomas (ATL), $6,700: The Falcons are a bottom-10 pass defense and Thomas has been a high-floor receiver all season. The rookie has at least five targets in every game. Thomas should be more than 20% owned.
Travis Kelce (SD), $6,800: Like David Johnson, Kelce is one of the strongest ownership plays of the week. The Chargers are a neutral matchup against tight ends and the Chiefs offense is all about Kelce and Tyreek Hill in recent weeks. Kelce has an anemic 4.8% touchdown rate this season, primed for regression as he has a single trip to the end zone over his last eight games, spanning 50 receptions. Kelce could be 40% owned.
Matt Bryant (vs NO), $5,300: The Falcons are by far the highest Vegas team total of the week. Bryant has been consistent at a notoriously inconsistent position, hitting at least 1.9x value in all but three games this season. Bryant is the best floor and ceiling play of the kicker pool.
Seahawks (SF), $5,200: The 49ers have the lowest Vegas team total of the week and have allowed 16 sacks over the past five weeks, fifth-most in the NFL. Seattle is the No.2 DVOA run defense, likely to turn San Francisco one-dimensional this week with a cast-off group of pass-catchers. Seattle is a 15-20% ownership play.
THE SNEAKY PLAYS
Blake Bortles (IND), $7,600: Bortles should be 3% owned or less this week and the garbage time king is without T.J. Yeldon. The Colts are No.27 against the pass and struggle against top receivers. Bortles and Allen Robinson are both strong plays to close the season. While it has not been a pretty year for Bortles, he has been solid for DFS with 11 games of 2x value including eight of his last 10 games.
Ty Montgomery (DET), $6,700: The Lions are a promising rush matchup (No.22 overall) and struggle mightily against backs in the pass game. If deviating from David Johnson and Jacquizz Rodgers from the chalk section, Montgomery is likely to have ownership in the 5-10% zone.
Allen Robinson (IND), $6,100: Outside of Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson, the Jacksonville stack is the preferred of the week. Allen Hurns is out for Week 17 and Robinson is coming off his best FanDuel value (3.4x) of the season. The Colts struggle against the pass and their weak spot is against top receivers. Robinson should be less than 10% owned.
Zach Ertz (DAL), $5,900: The Cowboys are playing for nothing in Week 17 and key starters are likely to be on the bench sooner rather than later. Even at full strength, Dallas is No.30 against tight ends this season. This is an optimal matchup and Jordan Matthews - the only other sturdy option for Carson Wentz in the pass game - is iffy with an ankle. Ertz is coming off his second-worst FanDuel value of the season (0.7x). Expect less than 10% ownership for Ertz.
Stephen Gostkowski (at MIA), $4,700: Of the top Vegas team totals, Gostkowski has the lowest salary of the week. Gostkowski has hit 2.3x value or better in four of five weeks.
Vikings (CHI), $4,600: The Bears have been turnover machines over the last five weeks, totaling 12, including nine in the last two games against subpar Washington and Green Bay defenses. The Vikings are above-average units against the run and pass and have logged 13 sacks over the past five weeks, the No.8 total tally. The Vikings should be less than 5% owned this week.
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